Integrated assessment of how food and activity environments are related to body mass index in adolescents and adults

There is a growing consensus that the obesity epidemic in youth and adults is partly due to changes in environments and policies that make it easier to eat excessive quantities of high-fat and high-sugar foods and more difficult to integrate physical activity into daily life. Though a variety of environmental changes have been proposed to control the obesity epidemic, there is a limited evidence base on how activity and food-related environments are related to weight status. All of the existing studies have examined either activity environments or food environments but, to date, no studies have included assessments of both types of environments. This program contract supports analyses linking data collected from the RWJF-funded Nutrition Environmental Measures Study (NEMS) with parallel data from the SMARTRAQ research program to develop a unique integrated assessment of environmental correlates of body mass index (BMI) and weight status in Atlanta. The project will: (1) assess travel patterns to different types of food outlets (e.g., fast food and full-service restaurants, and grocery and convenience stores) for youth ages 6-18 and for adults; (2) create a model to predict presence of healthy food choices and relative price of restaurants and stores visited by SMARTRAQ participants in the Atlanta region in the four NEMS neighborhoods with observed food environments; (3) assess how neighborhood food environments, visits to specific food outlets (where families live, work and attend school), and neighborhood walkability scores explain BMI when controlling for demographic covariates (N=1,137 participants); and (4) assess how neighborhood food environments (imputed) and physical activity environments (assessed) and the visitation to specific food outlets explain BMI, controlling for demographic covariates in the entire Atlanta region. Analyses will be conducted separately for youth (n=556) and for adults (n=11,640) in three income groups. Results documenting the relationships between nutrition environments, neighborhood walkability, travel patterns for food, and BMI of youth and adults will be presented in a final report, two or three journal articles and a brief written for decision-makers.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $87,963.00

Awarded on: 4/19/2006

Time frame: 5/1/2006 - 6/30/2007

Grant Number: 53915


Urban Design 4 Health, Inc.

353 Rockingham Street
Rochester, 14620-2515


Lawrence Douglas Frank
Project Director